Sunlight spread its fingers across my face, and I woke up. Then, almost as if it were planned, I heard pounding upon my door. Someone had decided to give me a visit early this morning.
I got up, tossed on some clothes, then went to stop the pounding noise at my door. I unlocked the door, then opened it up.
“Famine. For what do I owe the pleasure?” I made a little bow, followed with a curtsy, then invited her in. She smiled at me, and walked inside.
“I apologise for being unprepared, I only woke up moments ago. Tea?” I offered.
“Tea sounds fine. Go toss on the kettle, make yourself some breakfast, and we’ll talk over tea.” She nodded at me, then shooed me away. I followed her instructions, put the kettle on the stove, and pulled out a ready-to-eat breakfast.
Once I was done with breakfast, the water was also boiling. I poured two cups, placed tea bags into the steaming water, and brought the cups out. I handed one to Famine, warned her about the heat, then took a seat on a separate piece of furniture.
“So what do you need, Famine?” I stared at her as she stirred her tea around a bit.
“You remember Claire, right?” she asked. I nodded. “Well, she’s in a bit of a funk, and I don’t like seeing the poor girl like that. She kind of thinks you’re the best, and I think you might be able to make her feel better.” She gave me a kind of terse look. She seemed uneasy about asking me for help.
“Mm. So what do you think is wrong with her?” I took a sip of the tea. It hadn’t finished steeping.
“I don’t know. She hasn’t really talked to me about it. I just know that she wasn’t as chipper as usual. Most of the time she’s just sunshine and joy, but today she’s been way too quiet. She didn’t smile once, or crack any jokes at all yesterday. All I know is that her behavior is off.” Famine stopped stirring her tea, and took a sip.
“Well, I guess you ought to take me to her, or take her to me. Either one works.” I stirred my tea a bit, then took another sip. It was still a bit watered down.
Famine stared into her cup for a moment. “I think I’ll bring her here. You just stay comfortable.” Famine put her cup down, then walked outside. She should’ve at least told me when she’d be back.
In the meantime, I chose to clean the house a bit. I’m usually rather tidy, but I hadn’t done dishes in a while, because I had been so busy with work and with the protest group. So, I did a week’s worth of dishes.
Then, I swept and mopped my kitchen. My front room was dusty, because I rarely had reason to use it. So, I got a rag and wiped off the tables and such. Everything was presentable. Also, Famine never finished her tea. Famine is a rude host and house guest. I chuckled to myself.
I spent about another hour cleaning and organising my house. Then, Famine started pounding on the door again. I shuffled to the door, and opened it.
“H-hey, Ren.” It was Claire at the door. Famine has sent her alone. I don’t remember being trained for this.
“Claire. Hello. Would you like to come in?” I stepped aside from the door. She walked inside, and stood awkwardly within my home.
“Tea?” I had just washed the kettle with everything else, so it would be fine. Claire shook her head. “Well, then I guess you should just have a seat.” I motioned toward the couch, then took a seat in the chair.
“Well, Claire, Famine thinks that something is wrong with you at the moment. I can see why she thinks that. She also thinks that I would be the best person for you to talk to. I’m not sure I agree, but I’m willing to help.” Claire stared at her feet.
“Do you want to talk about it, or should I just tell Famine that you did?” Claire let out a breath. She seemed uncertain, but also didn’t want me to just brush past her. It seems like she wanted to talk, but was just unsure about all of it. It made me feel just as unsure about to do.
“The choice is yours. If you want to carry yourself independently, that’s your right. I’ll get you some water while you decide.” As mentioned, I went to the kitchen and got Claire a glass of tap water. I came back in and placed it onto the table for her before returning to my seat.
She stayed silent for a few moments. I waited for her to make her choice.
“Yeah,” she began after an aggravating wait, “I guess I should talk. Look, I’m a woman. I’ve always been a woman, but only recently did I have the support and resources to make it more possible. Yet, there are people who will deny me. A couple days ago, I got kicked out of a store. I hadn’t stolen anything, or picked any locks. It was just because I’m transgender. I don’t know what my identity should be anymore.” Claire was more calm and collected as she spoke than I expected. I honestly thought she would’ve broken down like Shelby did.
“That seems about right. I haven’t ever really cared about people and their identities. No one even knows my real name, that’s how little it has mattered to me. I don’t care what you choose to be, I will still support it. Others will judge you for it, sure, but those people don’t really matter. Someone might try to tell you to be a boy, and that’s when you perk up your tits and throw on some lipstick.
“They want you to feel so wretched that you think you have to follow their lifestyle choices. I want you to keep this in mind: Racism has always been tightly knit into American history. People treated black people like you are treated now. However, the black people couldn’t just throw on a new skin color and appear as others wanted them to. You shouldn’t throw on a new skin just because someone doesn’t like your current one.
“Your identity is yours. No one else can tell you to change it without your consent. Whoever the asshole is who discriminated against you has no power to make you change. Your name is Claire, and it will stay that if you so please.”
Claire was meeting my gaze at this point. Her eyes burnt with a certain fury that I hadn’t seen in years, from anybody.
“Yeah, you’re right, Ren. That’s what I had been telling myself all along. I should’ve just let myself be right.” She stood up. “I know that everyone else hates you for some of the things you’ve done, but I think you are the exact thing we need to pull this country out of the gutter. Renegade, if you so much as raise a finger against us, I will personally see you dead. You are important, and don’t let Pestilence say otherwise.”
I wasn’t sure what she was trying to tell me with all of that, but I nodded anyway.
“Also, Famine wanted me to give you this.” Claire handed me an envelope. I stuck it in my pocket so that I could continue to see her out.
“I’m going to go now, Ren. Take care of yourself, and take of everyone else, too.” She waved, and then walked out of the door.
That’s taken care of. That means I’m getting a few more positive points with the rest of the resistance group. Personally, I’m just glad that we didn’t lose our best lockpick to identity issues.
I took out and opened the envelope she had given me. Inside was a note with details pertaining to a meeting the horsemen were going to have later today. All of the members of the resistance who were also police who invited for security’s sake.
I suppose this means I can dedicate the rest of the day to my hacking algorithm. At least, the rest of the day besides the meeting tonight.